Should DEI Values be Embedded in Homeschooling?
When I was actively parenting my two grown children, I must have said “everybody’s different” at least 300 times. I remember a lot of eye rolling after I said it, but I kept saying it anyway. It must have sunk in eventually because both kids grew into adults who passionately believe in and advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) values. I didn’t homeschool them, but I’m confident I would have been a homeschool mom if the times had been different. The recognition of and need to provide an inclusive environment where all children’s voices are heard wasn’t nearly as recognized and dire as it is today.
I do remember there was a boy in my young son’s class named Sam who always wore a clown nose to school, rarely spoke, sat alone, and could recite the capital of every state without blinking. My son routinely announced at the dinner table that Sam wore a different colored clown nose to school that day. Or that his classmates made Sam cry that day because Sam didn’t know how to play kickball.
After my son made his announcement, my ex would inevitably say something insensitive like:
“I wouldn’t play with Sam anymore. He sounds like an oddball.”
I always countered with my worn-out mantra:
Cue the eye rolls and cries of “moooooommmm” – happened every time. This routine played out night after night after night until it grew into an ongoing family rift.
Fast forward 20 years.
I saw Sam on Facebook recently. He’s now a chess grandmaster and a confident, handsome young man. His parents must have recognized his gifts and supported and encouraged him into a successful adulthood. I have no doubt if homeschooling had been more mainstream at the time, they would have homeschooled Sam. They must have been so heartbroken when Sam came home from school every day and confided in them about what he endured.
I’m guessing it was my memory of Sam (and every kid like him) that motivated me to start my company. Maybe I wanted to help parents teach their kids that “everybody’s different” without having to say it 300 times and tolerate 300 eye rolls. Or maybe I wanted to help all the “Sams” of the world get through their day without getting emotionally pummeled by classmates. Who knows? Whatever the reason, it was situations like these that pushed me into my current career. I know I can’t help every parent in the world teach their child how to be compassionate to people who are different. But if I can help some of them raise inclusive, kind-hearted humans who embrace DEI values, that’s enough for me.
Trish Allison is a career writer, mom of two grown children, and the founder of
DEI for Parents. The goal of DEI for Parents is to help parents raise equality-
minded kids by incorporating diversity and inclusion values into daily home life.